Saturday, May 7, 2011

Koreshi Chronicles - Bored to Tears

19 Autumn, 1922

Lyta was bored, and she was frustrated. She'd swung by the sparring ring, even with her arm in a sling, planning to watch some of the fights. But after fending off questions about her injury and her encounter with the rovers who'd taken Kylie, she'd gotten fed up and left.

She'd tried running, but had given it up the first time she tried to reach for a convenient ledge and realized too late she couldn't move her left arm, and wound up stumbling into a wall before she could stop herself.

She'd tried to find Antoni in the hopes of acquiring a Gear she could use for practice, but Davood's brother was busy and not in the mood to deal with young cubs with too much time on their hands.

With her mood rapidly deteriorating, she wandered the hallways. She was a mere two corridors away when she realized her legs taking her towards the motor pool and Ennik's workshop. She stopped, turned back, and stopped again. "Hell," she muttered under her breath. "It's not like I've got anywhere better to be."

Straightening her back, she walked the last few meters to Ennik's workshop and knocked on the doorframe with her good hand.

"'Round back!" came a faint yell.  Lyta's shoulders sagged.  She had hoped that Ennik wasn't around.  The tinker's workshop was a small shed situated in the middle of a large collection of junk in a small box canyon near the motor pool.  Lyta picked her way through Elan and Antelope chassises, a half-dozen dirt-bikes, all in various states of disrepair, and what looked like a row of sand-filled Longrunner tires, all set up to block the view of whatever was around the back of the shed.  Lyta walked passed a snoring dawg, and through a gap in the makeshift fence.  Behind the shed and the tires, the tinker's lot was much more organized, though it had the feel of a caravaner's bazaar to it.  There were pots and pans hanging from wire, rows of tires of all different shapes and sizes, benches with machineguns, all assembled except for one missing crucial part (Lyta noticed a machinegun without a barrel) and even a gear's V-engine backpack hanging from chains, missing its piston rods.

There was a loud banging as Ennik took a jack-hammer to the underside of a rounded piece of gear armour held fast by a grip.  He was wearing goggles with attached ear covers, and his mechanic's tool rig on his shoulders.  He wore no shirt, and a pair of coveralls that he had opened to the waist.  Lyta could see his well-muscled back shimmer with sweat as the tinker tried to bang out the warped piece of armour.  He pulled away from the work, shut off the jackhammer, and raised his goggles.

"Lyta," Ennik blinked in disbelief, as he absentmindedly patted down his bare chest for cigarettes.  "Nice to see you.  Couldya hand me that pack o'smokes?" He nodded towards a pack sitting on a bench next to her.

She tossed it to him in an underhand lob and vaguely wondered whether he'd been drinking more since they'd gotten back the night before. In any case, he caught the pack and flicked out a cigarette. She waited while he fumbled in the coverall pockets for a lighter, lit the cigarette, and put it back, before turning his attention to his guest.

"Hi," she said. "I'm not interrupting anything?"

Ennik smiled slyly, goggles leaving two big rings in the grime and sweat on his face. "Nah. Just workin' away at that Iguana we brought back last night.  Antoni put a couple of good holes in it, so I've been working on the armour."  He jerked his thumb at the project behind him.  "Slow going.  Stuff's not meant to bend much, y'see."  He took a drag from his cigarette and looked the girl over.

"How's the arm," he nodded at her injury, "that your first?"

From another person, in another context, the look might have been enough to launch her into a fist-fight, but she doubted the mechanic had any such designs. She shook her head. "No. Deepest, though. Only time I ever had a bullet that needed to be taken out." She held back a wince, thinking of Todd with his tweezers, outside of Haven, pulling out the bullet out the back of her shoulder while she squeezed Lukas' hand until she was sure she would break it. She hadn't been able to take many painkillers; she'd needed to be alert enough to drive. It had not been one of the more pleasant experiences in her recent memory.

"What about you? You ever been shot?"

Ennik nodded, pointing to a circular scar on both sides of his right forearm, "got that in Prince Gable.  Bullet went clean through.  Looks like a cigarette burn, don't it?"  He pointed to a jagged scar on his right shoulder, just barely covered by his tool-rig, "shrapnel from a keff airburst missile. while I was driving a gear.  Made a horrible sound bouncin' around inside the cockpit like that before ending up in my shoulder."  He blinked, and pointed to his left leg, "ParaKommando took a chunk out of me with his laser gun."  Ennik noticed he was smiling at the girl while talking about how the implements of war had turned parts of him into hamburger, and took another drag from his cigarette. He rubbed his left shoulder, as Lyta watched him, stony-eyed.

"You ain't here to hear a drunk talk about his scars.  Unless you are, and you're really that bored."  He grinned.  "What can I do for ya?"

She filed the information about the ParaKommandos away. Lukas would want to know, but it wasn't a conversation she wanted to get into now, not with the memories of Baja so fresh. She realized, suddenly, that she had no idea why she was in the mechanic's playground. No idea at all.

She gave a one-shouldered shrug and made something up. "Wanted to see how the Gears were coming. You gonna be able to fix them?"

Ennik cackled, "you really are that bored! Getting clipped has you climbing the walls, don't it, Lyta?" He took a drag from his smoke and then butted it out, "metaphorically speaking, ya see."  He looked at the girl, lips pursed.  "The gears are a project.  That Sidewinder your brother Torgath brought back will take a couple of hours tops.  Melaya's working on it. Then there's the Hunter and the Iguana," he jerked his thumb at the piece of armour he had been banging out with a jackhammer moments before.  "I should be able to get the Iggy up and running soon.  The Hunter'll need a new cockpit."

She clenched her jaw and forced herself to unclench it. He was right. "Yeah, I'm fucking bored. and I'm tired of answering questions about the raid. I thought..." She shook her head. "Never mind. I don't know what I thought. If you like, I'll leave you to 'em."

"Nah, stick around.  I could use a bit of help."  Ennik set the jackhammer down and motioned over to where the v-engine was suspended a few feet off the ground.  "That's from the Iguana.  Gonna have to take it apart and find all the shrapnel that Antoni put in it.  Problem is, I ain't ever done that with an Iggy engine before."  He looked at the engine, scratching his head, and then back at Lyta, "you game?"

She looked at the engine, then back to the mechanic, and bit back a sarcastic remark. Really, she didn't have anywhere else to be, and Ennik was at least giving her something useful to do. "Yeah. Sure. Though I've never taken apart any engine before, and I'm gonna have to do it one-handed." She took a few steps forward towards the dangling engine. "So... what do I do?"

Minutes later, Ennik had set Lyta to work, slowly exposing the Iguana's v-engine's insides with a screwdriver.  Whenever needed, Ennik would step in with a powered socket wrench to open up an armoured compartment and then flee to the underside of the engine, where he was checking the electrical lines.  The v-engine had seized during the battle, so Ennik was sure that there was an abundance of shrapnel present that needed removing.  He just couldn't be sure where.  It was during the fourth use of the socket wrench that Lyta finally snapped at him. "Just fucking ask. Everyone else has been."


"You've been looking over at me every time you use that damned thing, trying to figure out how to ask something. Just ask."

"What were y'all doing in Baja?" Ennik swallowed hard, as he gave Lyta a thousand-yard stare.

Lyta exhaled slowly. "Yeah, I thought that was it." She turned away, back toward the engine, and started working on a stubborn bolt. She was quiet so long Ennik thought that she'd decided to ignore the question, and was preparing to dive back under the engine, when she spoke up, still facing the engine. "Same thing anyone in their right mind was doing back then. Running the hell away from the war."

Ennik nodded.  He shot Lyta a soft glance, and then climbed underneath the engine again.  His hands trembled.  "Once you're done taking off the last of the housing, look and feel around for any bits of metal.  Then we'll use an electromagnet to collect anything loose, and some pliers to pull out the bits that are stuck."

Lyta stared down, as though she could see the mechanic through the engine block, screwdriver held in her hand, for the moment forgotten. Then she shook her head, dislodging the thoughts that had come rushing back, of Baja and war and death. "Yeah," she said softly. "I'll do that."

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.